Home > Socrates in the Bedroom
Experts, not managers, make the best leaders. It shows that the performance of universities improves if they are led by presidents who are outstanding scholars – leaders who have deep expertise in what an organisation actually does
Experts, not managers, make the best leaders. It shows that the performance of universities improves if they are led by presidents who are outstanding scholars – leaders who have deep expertise in what an organisation actually does. To make its case, the book uses detailed data on the world’s universities. It shows there is a relationship between the research ability of a university leader and the later performance of that university. In other words, Socrates should be in the boardroom.
Goodall argues that the best research universities are run by the best scholars–it is not enough for a university president to be a good manager. This is an important message that all universities need to hear. I strongly recommend this book to anyone interested in the future health of the world’s leading universitiesSir Paul Nurse, President of the Royal Society, Chief Executive & Director of the Francis Crick Institute, and winner of the 2001 Nobel Prize in medicine
A natural alternative argument is: what the leader needs is primarily high managerial ability allied merely to some acceptable minimum level of technical ability. In contrast, the central argument being made in this book is that where expert knowledge is the key.
The book combines statistical data with interview material from leaders of some of the world’s top universities. Drawing on statements from presidents and deans, the book raises a number of possible reasons why better scholars, on average, make better leaders of research universities. It also examines how leaders are selected, and raises questions about the way boards govern universities.
This book explains why experts need to be guided by expert leaders. It concludes by asking whether the same rule might apply in other sectors – for example, shouldn’t orchestras be led by distinguished conductors, and what about architecture firms, or hospitals, or banks?
Also available in Chinese version – available from: Center for World-Class Universities, Graduate School of Education, Shanghai Jiao Tong University http://gse.sjtu.edu.cn/EN/centers.htm
I started reading this book with some skepticism, since I was doubtful that a convincing empirical case could be made for its key empirical proposition–that research universities should be led by top scholars. I was wrong. This is a first-rate piece of work that combines sensitive use of quantitative data with strong qualitative data. Although the topic is obviously important and frequently discussed, I know of no other systematic study of it. The book should be read by people in the business of identifying university presidents, and also by students of leadership and organisational practiceWilliam G. Bowen, former president of Princeton University and coauthor of The Shape of the River